Ask the Diva: Does Cooking Increase Lutein Content?
Q. I've read that lutein can help protect your eyes. However, I notice that cooked kale and spinach contain more lutein than raw kale and spinach. I've always understood heat/cooking effectively reduces nutrients in food. Why isn't it the case here?
A. Keep in mind that greens like spinach and kale cook down quite a bit. Two cups of raw kale, for example, will measure just a cup or so after cooking. So, a cup of cooked greens is a bigger serving than a cup of raw greens and, therefore, contains more lutein. Also, it's not always true that cooking decreases nutrient values. The lycopene in tomatoes, for example, is enhanced by cooking. Finally, as I mentioned in a recent episode, roasting increases the amount of antioxidants in peanuts.